How to Visit the Exumas in the Bahamas — Home to More Than 300 Days of Sunshine Per Year

Spread across 500 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas is a sun-splashed archipelago that’s renowned for its white-sand beaches, sapphire waters, and vibrant local culture. A tropical escape that’s easy to access thanks to direct flights from many U.S. hubs, it’s popular with all sorts of travelers — from families with young kids to couples keen to rev up the romance. 

While most vacationers plop down in Nassau, the gateway to the largest international airport, or drive across the bridge to Paradise Island — where you’ll find the legendary ocean-themed Atlantis Paradise Island resort — travelers familiar with the island chain know there’s more to discover beyond the big-name destinations. 

Not as tourist-trodden as the aforementioned hot spots, but more well-known than Eleuthera and Andros, the Exumas earns its shine as a relaxing vacation destination with nature-forward highlights. Most people go for the world-famous Tropic of Cancer Beach or Pig Beach. Spread across the 365 islands and cays are also many off-the-beaten-path treasures such as secret coves, underwater caves, and near-empty snorkeling spots.

To help you plan the perfect trip to the Exumas, we tapped local experts for their picks for the best hotels, activities, restaurants, and insider tips. 

Top 5 Can’t Miss

  • Catch some rays on the sandy beaches. 
  • Swim with cute pigs. 
  • Eat fresh-caught seafood. 
  • Arrange a boat trip to explore the lesser-known cays. 
  • Stay in an ocean-front room at Paradise Bay Resort.

Kip Dawkins/Fowl Cay Resort

Best Hotels and Resorts

Paradise Bay  

More than just a place to snooze (though it does have charming, no-fuss cottages), Paradise Bay is all about getting guests outside and into nature. Stays include ample on-property activities such as paddleboarding, kayaking, and snorkeling, as well as off-site excursions, ranging from catamaran tours to kite surfing. 

Fowl Cay Resort

Fowl Cay Resort caters to travelers who might not dig the setup of a more traditional all-inclusive. Instead of massive buffets and nightly entertainment, this low-key stay offers a sense of seclusion that’s wrapped up in villas overlooking aqua water, snorkeling whenever the mood strikes, and captaining your own powerboat.

Grand Isle Resort & Residences

Grand Isle Resort & Residences earns high praise for its spectacular setting on Emerald Bay on the island of Great Exuma. The villas are equipped with full kitchens, comfortable living areas, and up to four bedrooms, making them ideal for a quick getaway or a longer stay with the whole family. The property also boasts amenities such as an infinity pool, a championship golf course, a spa, a fitness center, and three restaurants.

Kahari Resort 

Kahari Resort, a boutique escape on Stocking Island, is a favorite among eco-conscious travelers and serenity seekers alike. Surrounded by the untrammeled beauty of clear water and lush flora, the hotel inspires visitors to reconnect with nature, whether that’s lazing on the pristine, private beach or going on a bonefishing excursion. 

Hideaways at Palm Bay

True to its name, Hideaways at Palm Bay emanates a relaxed energy that allows vacationers to unwind within moments of arriving. Amenities include an outdoor pool, sun terrace, barbecue facilities, water sports, table tennis, fishing, board games, a restaurant, and a bar. There’s also a free shuttle into town for stress-free exploration.

Best Things to Do

Pig Beach

You’ve likely seen videos of influencers and tourists swimming with pigs all over social media. This activity goes down at the Instagram-famous Pig Beach on Big Major Cay, an uninhabited island that’s accessible via boat. Of course, as with any experience that involves animals, it’s important to do your research to find an ethical tour operator, and read up on best practices before going.

Coco Plum Beach

Situated on Great Exuma, the famous Coco Plum Beach is ideal for those seeking a calm day of sun, sand, and sea. “It’s an idyllic spot to spend the day and have a picnic lunch since it’s dotted with shade-giving palms,” says Emmett Saunders, executive director at the Exuma Chamber of Commerce

Tropic of Cancer Beach 

Located on the coast of Little Exuma, Tropic of Cancer Beach is the longest on the island. Featuring powdery sand and translucent water, it’s easy to see why it ranks at the top of must-see lists for travelers visiting the Exumas. 

Thunderball Grotto

“Don’t miss Thunderball Grotto, an underwater cave just west of Staniel Cay that you might recognize from the James Bond movies,” says Justin Minns, manager of Paradise Bay. The entrance is hidden under the water, but curious travelers can swim through during low tide to see an array of colorful fish and tropical marine life.

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park Visitor Center

Minns encourages travelers interested in outdoor adventures to head to Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park Visitor Center. The ecological area, which extends from Shroud Cay in the north to Bells Cay in the south, protects mangroves and amazing marine species.

Stocking Island Beaches

To get up close and personal with one of the prettiest parts of the Exumas, Minns advises visitors to arrange an excursion to the photogenic beaches on Stocking Island, wh enjoy the pristine shoreline, a splash in the clear water, and snorkeling.

Best Restaurants

Cocoplum Bistro

The top-rated restaurant on Great Exumas, Cocoplum Bistro serves French cuisine with a Bahamian twist in an upscale yet warm setting that’s ideal for a memorable night out on vacation. Tip: Don’t leave without sampling the lobster tempura.

Sandpiper Cafe

To fill your belly (and photo roll) while out and about in George Town, beeline it to the Sandpiper Cafe, a great spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don’t sleep on the homemade pastries and desserts.

Shirley’s at the Fish Fry

Saunders recommends Shirley’s at the Fish Fry for delicious and unique Bahamian seafood dishes such as coconut grouper, steamed snapper, and curry conch. The breezy beach-shack atmosphere and rum drinks play into the vacation vibes, too. 

Tropic Breeze Beach Bar & Grill

Craving classic Caribbean cuisine? Tropic Breeze Beach Bar & Grill receives rave reviews from past dinners for its mouthwatering food (you’d be hard-pressed to find tastier rock lobster and grouper fingers anywhere) and beautiful beachside setting on Little Exuma.

Blu on the Water 

Celebrating something special? Saunders suggests making a reservation at Blu on the Water. At this fine-dining favorite in Rolletown, diners are treated to creative presentations of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. To wash down the scrumptious food? A handcrafted cocktail, of course. 

Best Time to Visit

The busiest period in the Exumas is from December through April, when many travelers are keen to trade the winter doldrums for sunshine and salty breezes. Minns suggests avoiding September and October, which tend to be quite hot. “It’s also when many Bahamians go on holiday, so certain places are closed during that time.”

How to Get There

Several airlines operate nonstop service between major U.S. cities and Nassau. From there, travelers can hop aboard a Bahamasair flight to George Town on Grand Exuma. “We’re also excited to see the new airport that’s underway in Great Exuma to meet the current and future travel demand,” says Saunders. 

How to Get Around

Taxis and car rentals are readily available for visitors. The same goes for charter and self-captained boats to explore the many smaller islands and cays.

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